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Judge Says Accused 'Snowboarder' Bandit Must Stand Trial

The man is accused of robbing a First California Bank branch in Palm Desert and trying to rob a U.S. Bank in Bermuda Dunes.

The alleged "snowboarder bandit" accused in three bank robberies and one attempted bank robbery in the Coachella Valley was ordered Friday to stand trial.

Michael Brandon Franks, a 30-year-old Riverside resident, was charged with three counts of robbery, four counts of burglary and two counts of attempted robbery for four alleged crimes between April 11 and May 4, 2012.

Franks was on the FBI's most wanted list in Southern California and has been accused of robbing nine banks in Orange County.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Charles Stafford ruled there was enough evidence for Franks to proceed to trial on all charges following a preliminary hearing today at Indio's Larson Justice Center.

Stafford also kept bail for Franks -- who is free on bond -- at $500,000. Stafford said if he had presided at Franks' arraignment, he would have ordered Franks held without bail.

"From what I heard, he poses a substantial risk to the community until these cases are resolved," Stafford said.

Two separate cases were filed against Franks in Riverside County, but Deputy District Attorney Steve Morgan said they likely would be combined before trial. Franks is due back in court on May 3.

Franks' "snowboarder bandit" moniker stemmed from the suspect's youthful appearance and the knit hats and ski clothes he allegedly wore during some of the holdups.

Franks is accused of robbing a First California Bank branch in Palm Desert and trying to rob a U.S. Bank in Bermuda Dunes, both on May 4; robbing a BBVA Compass branch in Palm Springs on April 20 and robbing a Chase bank in Rancho Mirage on April 11.

Franks was previously arrested on May 4 last year, but only on suspicion of robbing banks in Orange County. He was out on bail when he was arrested again later that month.

Franks is charged in Orange County with 10 counts of robbery and two counts of attempted robbery in connection with 10 holdups at nine banks. The robberies netted about $30,000 from Dec. 20, 2011, through March 21 of last year, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office. The Schools First Federal Credit Union branch in Anaheim was hit twice, according to prosecutors.

Franks also wassuspected of robbing a bank in Ventura County, the FBI said last year. No cases were listed under his name in Ventura County court records.

FBI Special Agent Chris Gicking said a surveillance camera photo from a holdup in Palm Springs was especially helpful in identifying the suspect, who had ditched the ski hat in favor of a large motorcycle helmet in several recent holdups.

In the Palm Springs BBVA Compass robbery, the suspect donned a baseball cap without sunglasses, as he had in past robberies, Gicking said.

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